What Schools Can Do
On an individual level, educators can teach and demonstrate effective strategies for youth. However, YDV prevention is much more effective when larger policies are in line with these efforts. School policies will vary based on the needs of the teachers, students, and communities they represent. As part of your school’s community, you can take part in advocating for effective policies for YDV prevention and responding. Here are some general guidelines based on teacher surveys and research.
Have Clear and Appropriate Guidelines and Policies Related to Youth Dating Violence
The school board should have clear guidelines for the safety of both teachers and administrators.
Teachers need to know how to respond to YDV disclosures, witnessing violence, or other YDV-related situations.
Teachers need to know their school’s policy on who to contact in YDV-related situations.
Teachers need to know their legal and professional responsibilities when responding to YDV, as well as school division policies.
Teachers should know the limits of confidentiality (e.g., harm involving a minor), and communicate and be transparent with their students.
Provide Opportunities for Staff Training, and Provide Support When Needed
- Staff (including teachers, administration, and any adult working with students in the school) should receive formal training on preventing and responding to dating violence
- This requires the support of the school board to provide professional development and the opportunity to integrate learning material into the curriculum
- Schools need to have a policy for supporting teachers or staff who are assisting students with issues related to YDV. Examples include designated substitutes for teachers providing support to a student or optional counselling resources for teachers who need them.
Create More Inclusive Spaces for Marginalized Groups in School
- Individuals belonging to groups who experience inequalities in society may face discrimination or additional burdens in school.
- Think about how certain groups within the school may experience difficulties due to factors such as gender identity, sexual orientation, cultural background, disability/ability, and socioeconomic status.
- Students, teachers, and other school staff form their own norms of behaviours, attitudes, and what is appropriate within the school environment.
- Reinforcing norms that are inclusive of marginalized groups is a great place to start – encourage the adults in the school to embody inclusive principles in their interactions with each other and the students, and show that abuses of power in relationships are never okay.
- Encourage respectful and cooperative behaviour among individuals belonging to different groups.
- Integrate students to create a healthy sense of school community.
- Create spaces for youth to feel welcome, such as 2SLGBTQIA+ school groups, cultural diversity events, and a school environment that accommodates disabilities. It is critical to integrate teaching about equity directly into the curriculum.